New Study: Increased Pressure on Higher Ed Admissions Teams

Non-profits and for-profits actively compete for qualified students, but inadequate admissions processes still undermine enrollment efforts.Velocify Survey

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Velocify, the market leader in cloud-based intelligent enrollment management software, and Enrollment Resources, today published the results of a two-part secret shopper study on responsiveness to student inquiries called, “Comparing Inquiry Response Strategies at Non-Profit and For-Profit Higher Education Institutions.” The study revealed some surprising findings; most notably that non-profit higher education institutions outperform their for-profit counterparts on some key inquiry response benchmarks. However, both non-profit and for-profit schools underperformed on other important factors, thereby frustrating prospective students and limiting their enrollment potential.

Comparing Inquiry Response Strategies at Non-Profit and For-Profit Higher Education Institutions eBook “With enrollment down across the board, attracting enough qualified applicants is a key admissions issue for most colleges and universities, whether proprietary or non-profit,” said Martin Lind, director of the education vertical at Velocify. “Though the non-profit schools surveyed were, overall, much more responsive than the stereotype would dictate, there is a substantial opportunity to improve performance across most of the benchmarks, especially speed-to-call, persistence and inbound call user-experience.”

Part one of the study evaluated the admissions practices at 10 for-profit and 10 non-profit schools. A total of 100 website inquires (five inquiries per school) were submitted during the school’s business hours. Velocify evaluated each school on four key performance indictors: speed-to-first-call, speed-to-first-email, number of call attempts and number of emails sent. Each school was evaluated against established best practices. The study revealed a number of key findings:

Previous Velocify research found that calling a prospective student within one minute increases enrollment rates by 391 percent. However, neither for-profit nor non-profit schools came close to best practices in how long they took to call an inquiry. For-profit schools were much faster at calling, with an average response of 6.5 hours vs. non-profits who took 12 hours on average.
Non-profits far outperformed their for-profit counterparts on speed-to-first-email, taking an average of three hours to respond vs. 41 hours by for-profits.

Many non-profit and for-profit schools over called their prospects. In fact, 30 percent of non-profit and 42 percent of for-profit schools were excessively persistent, with more than 12 calls to a prospect over 22 days. Velocify research has determined that six is the optimal number of call attempts to maximize contact rates without over-investing time and resources into unresponsive prospects.
Despite the clear benefits of calling all prospective students back, 20 percent of non-profit school prospects and 10 percent of for-profit school prospects did not receive a single call from their inquiries.

Part two of the study looked at the prevalence of productive communications best practices during the enrollment process, evaluating the same 10 for-profit and 10 non-profit schools. A productive, personalized discovery conversation with a prospective student supports their decision process and builds excitement and enthusiasm for a school’s programs.

The researchers examined whether the admissions advisor, who answered the phone, requested key contact information, asked questions that invited a prospective student to begin the career clarification process, and whether they asked to advance the enrollment process for inquiries that seemed like a good fit.

The study found a variety of response strategies, many less than stellar were employed:

Despite the benefits of establishing a quick connection with a prospective student, non-profit schools frequently failed to ask for basic contact information about the prospect. In fact, 63 percent of non-profits and 13 percent of for-profits didn’t ask for the caller’s name.
Additionally, 50 percent of the non-profits and 27 percent of for-profits evaluated in the study didn’t ask for a phone number. Identifying the best phone number for a prospective student early in a call is essential for follow-up or in case a call is dropped.
“When it comes to phone contact, many schools underperformed against both their peers and best practices, which limits the effectiveness of their enrollment management efforts,” said Greg Meiklejohn, Enrollment Resources’ co-founder and CEO. “Well-qualified inquiries are being lost through lack of contact strategy precision, benign neglect and transactional — instead of personalized — communications.”

A complimentary copy of the complete study can be downloaded directly from Velocify’s website by clicking here.

About Velocify, Inc.

Velocify is a market-leading provider of cloud-based intelligent enrollment management software designed for schools that compete for students. Velocify accelerates performance – driving rapid inquiry response, increased discipline, improved productivity, and unique enrollment management insights. The company has helped more than 1,500 organizations across a variety of industries, becoming the platform of choice for organizations focused on improving enrollment rates, customer acquisition practices and performance. For more information, visit: www.velocify.com/highered, or connect via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

About Enrollment Resources, Inc.

Founded in 2003 by Gregg Meiklejohn and Shane Sparks, Enrollment Resources advocates for and supports post-secondary schools throughout North America. The company mission is to help schools improve Enrollment Management practices, increasing revenue and lowering costs for ER clients. Schools are given easy-to-follow tools and processes designed to empower improve performance, without swelling costs. Enrollment Resources was the first Direct Response Marketing Company globally to become B Corp certified. Enrollment Resources was also the first Education Marketing company globally to be certified by Google as a professional partner.